Dissecting the proteomics of estrogen replacement therapy

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In the current issue of Genome Medicine, researchers report the results of the most in-depth quantitative proteomic study in connection with a clinical trial to be conducted to date.

In the article ‘Application of serum proteomics to the Women’s Health Initiative conjugated equine estrogens trial reveals a multitude of effects relevant to clinical findings’, Samir Hanash and colleagues report a state-of-art proteomic analysis on data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial. The authors find that intake of estrogen as part of hormone replacement therapy affects at least 10% of the women’s serum proteome.

Samir Hanash, based at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, states that, “Remarkably, as many as 10 percent of plasma proteins analyzed were found to be affected by estrogen hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women. These changes indicate a substantial effect on coagulation and metabolic proteins that may explain the increased risk of venous thromboembolism and stroke, and the reduced risk of fracture, found in the WHI trial.”

This work demonstrates the utility of comprehensive profiling of the serum proteome for clinical investigations. As the authors state, “Our findings should encourage other investigators to include quantitative proteomic analysis as part of clinical trials of new therapies to better understand the effect of therapy and to identify surrogate markers of response to treatment”.

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Iratxe Puebla
Senior Editor, Genome Medicine